Low Mileage And Original: 1957 Ford Thunderbird

As time goes on, your chances of finding a largely original car become slimmer by the day.  Why is this important?  The clues left behind on an original car, such as finishes, casting numbers, date stamps, etc…, tell the story of the car and cars like it.  If you value automotive history, then cars like this 1957 Ford Thunderbird being sold on eBay out of Jacksonville, Florida are very special things.  Garaged and pampered all its life, this gorgeous Thunderbird with a rare manual transmission has just 39,305 miles and is largely untouched except for a professional repaint and the addition of air conditioning.  Does all this originality justify the $39,500 asking price, or would a lower offer be more reasonable?  Thanks to Pat L. for this great find!

You can’t help but be impressed with the pictures of the car and the presentation in the ad.  So many times we see nice cars that should go for higher prices either not selling or reaching their potential because of a lack of quality and/or quantity of pictures and the usual terse, poorly worded description.  A family member of the owner is actually handling the sale of this car.  As you can see, it isn’t this person’s first rodeo.

Regardless, this car does a good job of selling itself.  The Thunderbird Bronze paint, which the seller tells us has been refinished some time in the past, still looks great.  A closer look at the chrome and trim reveals nothing that would suggest rust and/or pitting. The wide whitewall tires contrast well with the paint and the top.  Unfortunately, there is no mention of a hardtop coming with this car.  It appears that this is a soft top only ‘Bird.

A look inside reveals an interior that has the look of a used but well cared for car.  There is some lumpiness in the dash pad, and the driver’s seat foam appears to be a little soft in the center.  The air conditioning unit is designed like the aftermarket systems that were popular in the sixties and seventies.  It is said to blow cold, and must be nice to have on days when dropping the top just doesn’t get the job done when it comes to comfort.  The biggest standout in the picture is the manual shifter.  It is connected to the three speed transmission that was paired with the base engine.  I wasn’t able to find any production figures, but a manual transmission is a rare sight in a first generation Thunderbird.

The car’s originality shows through when the trunk is opened.  The vinyl used to protect the trunk surfaces is obviously original material, and hasn’t been treated as carefully as the rest of the car.

Looking underneath, the sellers claim that this is a well cared for and rust free car is proven.  I’d venture a guess that some detail work has been done underneath.  Original cars rarely look this good after even the occasional splashing of water, dirt, and grime.

Under the hood is the base 292 cubic inch Y-block engine.  It put out 212 horsepower, and that was certainly enough to get a small car like this moving along briskly.  The engine almost appears too clean and tidy to be original.  We are told, and there is evidence in other photos, that date codes for some parts are still present.

All and all, this is a very impressive car.  Being a base model and having a manual transmission may hurt the eventual selling price.  However, the condition and mileage will likely greatly offset any issues.  You couldn’t ask for a nicer driver to enjoy.  I just wonder what the final selling price will be.

What do you think it will sell for?


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  1. Keith Keith

    Nice T-Bird very clean!

    Like 5
  2. CCFisher

    “Original, except x, y, and z” = “Not original.”

    Like 2
    • IkeyHeyman

      I often see “mostly original” in a description. The other day I saw an ad for a car that said it was “all original, except for engine and one repaint”!

      Like 2
    • Will Fox

      Fine. Find another that’s better for this price.
      (honestly….pick, pick, pick…….)

      Like 11
  3. Pat L Member

    Actually Jeff, l sent you in the Craigslist link for this car.
    I have bought and sold a few cars off of Craigslist. I usually don’t even bother to look at eBay, not a big fan of the auction format.

    Like 2
    • Butch

      Since eBay has paired with Twofacebook it’s like it’s not even the same outfit. I have bought and sold on there for over twenty years with very few problems. Now everything is a hassle from the littlest thing.

      Like 1
  4. pwtiger

    Nice old bird, 57’s are my favorite so is the color, even if I had tonnes of money I don’t think I would go more than 25K

    Like 1
  5. redwagon

    A really nice example of an early Thunderbird and great colors. I would be hesitant to drive it. Is it worth $39k? As a Thunderbird likely not. As a Corvette, Nomad or Tri-Five Chevy in similar condition? Likely. Hence the difference desirability makes in value.

    Like 1
  6. Will Fox

    The very best shade for a `57 Bird, and obviously well cared for. Just shy of $40K is a little steep, considering no automatic, 312, power windows or seat. I can only hope the seller has the hard top, but if not, you can get one. Overall, I would be hard-pressed to find one nicer that is this nice without going to Amos Minter in Dallas.

    Like 3
  7. Bob C.

    I like the fact that has the 292 over the 312. The former was in production a lot longer and parts and improved upgrades are much easier to obtain. Lots to do with a 292.

    Like 2
  8. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    I’ve never seen one with manual trans. I like these cars, a friend of mine has a red one that has won concours in Houston. The late Valerie Harper drove one back in the 70’s. I wouldn’t pay this premium price, but it is nice.
    God bless America

    Like 4
  9. 86_Vette_Convertible

    It is a good looking car, and hopefully drives as well as it looks. Don’t have the $$ for it but you can park it next to my other T-Bird any time.
    I like it.

  10. TimM

    This is a classic American sports car and the hog leg between the seats make it that much cooler!! Really clean too!! I just wouldn’t want to pay that for it!! To me it’s above it’s value!!

  11. Butch

    Have seen a lot of these birds but I love this color. If they had a hardtop and painted it the gold color of that 144 mile Pontiac that was on here the other day this bird would pop big time!

  12. Don Page

    Glad to see it doesn’t have a continental kit. It ruins the look of the car.

    Like 1
  13. Dougie Member

    Awe these cars are such boat anchors! True they’re cute, but, well it’s a Ford. So much cooler, well the whole purpose of this car, is the 1957 Corvette. But if you really want the real thing, go Porsche 1957 356. Now there’s a car. Granted, it’s 5X the cost, but there’s a reason! Bring it on, haters! lol

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